I lost my virginity because of a really terrible book. But there’s a little more to the story.

I was one of those girls every parent hopes to have and every boy hopes his girlfriend isn’t. I was perfectly fine with saying no.

That’s not true. I don’t know that every boy wished I’d just please, for once, say yes. The boys I dated seemed pretty excited just to have a girlfriend. There was no pushing, urging, pressuring, or egging on.

As a teenager, there was no way I was going to have sex. Just no way. Why? Because I didn’t feel ready. It was very simple. And there was plenty of other stuff to do.

Once, when I was seventeen or so, a boyfriend whipped out a pack of condoms (“family size” I always said, retelling the story), and I laughed. “OK,” I said, “But we’re not having sex.”

“Just in case,” he said. “Maybe I should put one on.”

“Go ahead,” I said, fully clothed and completely entertained.

We did not have sex.

Being homeschooled can make this stuff easier (South Park doesn’t understand us!). I didn’t reach adolescence with a group of same-aged peers who had borrowed, made, and remade all the rules about sexuality. I became a teenager with a handful of good friends who were my age, surrounded by my much older friends, much younger friends, and my family. No one seemed to be thinking about sex a whole lot.

Recently, I read this now-old article about virginity. Virginity is such a big deal.  It’s dangerous. It becomes socially damaging. You try to keep it and keep it and then one day you cross a line and you’re supposed to try to get rid of it as quickly as possible. It’s about to make you look freakish. You’re a prude now, you’re dysfunctional. In the article, men don’t want to sleep with the women in their mid-twenties who haven’t yet shed their V burden. (I tried to make that some sort of play on words and then just gave up.)

I remember when virginity became bad. It was towards the end of college. Around twenty-one. My  friends who hadn’t had intercourse yet started to feel uneasy. They wanted to get it out of their system. They wanted to get in the game. They felt like they were being left behind. They felt other people feeling sorry for them.

Two of my childhood friends and I had a pact. Whoever had sex first had to tell the other two all about it. No details omitted. By the time we each had sex, none of us cared about it so much anymore. It was sort of just another part of what we felt like doing with the boys we felt like we might be in love with at that time.

I was eighteen when I decided to have sex. I was inspired by a professor. OK, not by him, specifically,  but by a book he recommended. He was a psych professor, and he was talking about intimacy at some point and he mentioned a book that he really liked, about couples’ counseling. I asked him after class for the name. I didn’t really trust his judgment and I thought this would be proof of something.

The book was incredibly bad. The couples’ retreat sounded creepy, and the sex was all penises. “It was like putting my penis in a wall socket.” Um…oww? Do you still have a penis?

I thought, “I can do this so much better.” I knew to avoid exposed electrical outlets.

The whole thing was almost shockingly empowered, in retrospect. Actually, I felt kind of awkward about it for that reason. When girls exchanged stories about how stupid, meaningless, or accidental their first times were, I kept quiet. I felt like girls were supposed to dislike losing their virginity. Like it was supposed to be a big, bad deal.

The truth is, I lost my virginity when I got to the point where sex didn’t seem like a big deal anymore. When it wasn’t a scary, exotic, grownup act, but one that seemed normal, accessible, and fine.

So it feels weird to even say “lost” when I talk about my virginity. I knew exactly where I was putting it.

The idea that not having had a penis inside you by the time you’re twenty-one, twenty-six, or thirty says something important about you infuriates me. The idea of virginity almost always fails to take into account other ways in which someone can be, and usually is, sexual. It fails to remember that not everyone is straight. It fails to value many people’s desire to take the time to build an intimate relationship before being sexual with someone.

The idea that a woman’s social worth can still be determined by her involvement with male-genitalia is really gross.

I find myself wandering around sometimes, asking that eternal, impossible question: “Why does everyone care so much about everyone else’s sexuality?”

History of world religions. Biology. Tribal instinct. MTV. Sex is fun.

Who knows? When I read Cosmo that one time, I was trying to figure out why the entire magazine seems to be about sex, and I decided that maybe sex is the most exciting thing the largest number of people have in common. How’s that for theorizing? I’ve got my dissertation topic, if I ever feel like getting a PhD.

But for now, un-PhDed and still wandering, I can’t help but hope virginity stops being a thing. If we need to obsess and define and affix milestone markers to things that we do, maybe we should care more about “the first time you’re sexual with another person.” But maybe that’s too difficult to define. So maybe we should stop trying to define all the time and just let people be.

The friends I had who suddenly felt like there might be something wrong with them at 21 had no good reason to feel that way. Often, they were the women who had said no when they felt uncomfortable. Or the ones who were not interested in dating at the moment.

So is it really the act of saying no that is still such a problem for the virginity police? Or is it, you know, wanting to do your homework instead of going to another frat party?

Either way, I’m pretty sure that every over-twenty virgin is also a person who has something else more striking, interesting, or important about her that could be used to describe her instead.

*  *  *

Un-roast: Today I love the way I look in gold hoop earrings. I suddenly craved them, so I bought myself a pair. And they are everything I’d anticipated they’d be.

P.S. This article, called Sexless and the City, would be the WRONG way to talk about people who aren’t having sex. Sigh…

P.P.S. I figured out the whole dating games secret! Everyone just wants the person they’re with to act like they’re really interested in them. Paying for stuff communicates that. So do other things, though, so paying shouldn’t be a necessity. The point is, your partner or potential partner should make some sort of effort. End of story. I’m a genius! (Also, if one person makes a lot more money than the other person, it might be nice of them to pay, whether or not they’re a guy.)


Kate on March 17th 2011 in being different, body, life

47 Responses to “Virginity”

  1. Serena responded on 17 Mar 2011 at 12:20 pm #

    Lovely & insightful post. I’d just read your previous post on my google reader when this popped up. Funnily enough the topic of virginity has been on my mind a lot lately. As well as a gender thing, virginity is a cultural thing. In the states I’ve found being a virgin at 18 normal, acceptable, etc. Whereas I’ve just spent half a year in the UK & the majority of the girls I’ve become close with thought 16 was about right to “lose it” & thought 18 was really quite old!

    The funny thing is, I’m more on your bank…I don’t think it should be such a big deal. I don’t think people should be pressured into giving anything up. It should be something that naturally becomes a part of life…like periods (for girls), bras (again, girls), books (go with me here), etc. Sex should be something natural…but not something feared/revered…not something put on a pedestal & obsessed over…
    PS. I love your un-roasts. :-)

  2. Erinleigh responded on 17 Mar 2011 at 12:29 pm #

    This is a great endeavor into the virginity issue…I was probably the last of my friends to have sex or to give a hoot about it!

    I was 18. My boyfriend was 19. He really wanted to…I on the other hand don’t think I was entirely ready. The whole experience was akward and weird and I didn’t want to do it again for a long time afterward…probably because it was more painful than anything for me. Felt like someone was ripping me in two.

    I agree with the fact that there is no rush in this matter. It’s better that the act of sex be something you experience with a person you love. I did love my high school boyfriend…we were together for three years and we were each other’s firsts. That in itself was sweet and meaningful…but I still wish I wouldn’t have let him persuade me to have sex as soon as we did….

    I never worried about sex in high school. I didnt’ even really like boys…I was more into having fun and just being a free-spirited young woman. Dancing, reading, playing in the outdoors…that was just more my thing. I don’t think I would have had sex until much later…more like my mid twenties because I just wasn’t into men that strongly until then. I would be proud to say I didn’t have sex until 25.

    Call me a late bloomer…but that’s just me.

  3. Megs responded on 17 Mar 2011 at 12:29 pm #

    That was everything I needed to be told, but that I didn’t even realise I needed to be told it (if that makes any sense?). Most of the time I’m not that person, but when that uneasiness pops up, that nervous questioning about whether something is wrong with me, it can be difficult to shake it. Even when rationally I know there is nothing to be uneasy about.

    I’ve been reading for a long time but today I felt I had to comment. You’ve made me cry in a tiny cafe in London but I think I needed it. So thank you Kate! You’re talent for putting these things into words is a lovely thing indeed.

  4. Erin responded on 17 Mar 2011 at 12:34 pm #

    I am 25 and a virgin and completely fine with it.

    The decision is mine and I honestly don’t see the big deal about it. It is what it is. Maybe if we didn’t treat sex as the big scary grown-up thing it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. We are past the days (in our society) where having sex before marriage puts a stain on the women’s reputation.

    I actually pride myself on being a virgin. Not because I think it’s something that makes me appear virtuous or above others, but because I made the decision a while ago and have committed to it. To each their own I say.

  5. Barb responded on 17 Mar 2011 at 12:34 pm #

    I find this a very interesting read, but let’s face it, it is MAN who made these ideas. Remember men had the power over everything for quite some time, until more recently. So, when a boy with raging hormones grows to be a man with raging hormones, they set the guidelines.

    I gave up my virginity at 15 but didn’t have any pain because my hymen was broken when I was younger, riding on a bike with my brother, slid off of the seat and got a good crotch hit from the bar on the bike.

    But I think that virginity is on the rise, or at least keeping it longer is. I think if people are more open and honest with their young boys and girls about their sex drives when they hit puberty and that it’s ok to masturbate, maybe we’d hear less and less about the taboo of virginity.

    But this puritan country still has an issue talking about sex, masturbation and same sex-sexual relations.

  6. JJgal responded on 17 Mar 2011 at 12:38 pm #

    So it feels weird to even say “lost” when I talk about my virginity. I knew exactly where I was putting it.

    I absolutely LOVE that statement. I knew where I was putting mine, too, thankfully. Sadly, a lot of gals don’t.

  7. oonaballoona responded on 17 Mar 2011 at 1:07 pm #

    great post, especially that last line.

    i loved having my virginity long after everyone else disposed of theirs. more because i was happy to be doing what i wanted, and happy they did what (or rather who) they wanted. heh.

  8. Anna responded on 17 Mar 2011 at 1:22 pm #

    Thank you for this. Really. Thank you.

  9. Homeschool unit studies « Un-schooled responded on 17 Mar 2011 at 1:47 pm #

    [...] my story about learning disabilities on HuffPo.  Also, I’m talking about virginity over at Eat the Damn Cake today, and there’s a bit about being [...]

  10. Cassandra responded on 17 Mar 2011 at 1:54 pm #

    Amen. My biggest beef is, why does any one even know of have to know whether a woman is a Virgin or not? It’s none of anyone’s business. I was labeled “Ice Box” (‘scuse the rude term!) in College for not being skanky and actually being 18 and a Virgin. I laughed at the time – but find it odd that the same year (when I was 18) was the one I lost my “sacred” Virginity to Mr. famous Theatre Major boy who dumped me 3 months later. Makes me mad to think that the teasing had an affect on my decision.

  11. Hannah responded on 17 Mar 2011 at 2:01 pm #

    This was such a great post! We as women should realize more often that there are other ways to define ourselves than whether or not we are virgins.

  12. Meredith responded on 17 Mar 2011 at 2:04 pm #

    Wonderful post. I waited until I was in my mid twenties. Looking back (as I am closer to 40 now) my biggest regret is that I didn’t do it sooner.

    There’s always a lot of blah blah blah about being in love, feeling connected, etc, for women and first times (because we’re “so emotional”), and while I felt I deeply loved the person I did have sex with, in retrospect I would have enjoyed it much more (I think) with the person in high school who I cared about, but didn’t love. We had CHEMISTRY. Lots and lots. He was a gentler person, and more in touch with his body and his sexuality. It would have been less “serious” and more “fun”.

    I abstained in HS because I was a devout Catholic. While there’s nothing wrong with waiting or not waiting, or whatever, what bothers me about our culture is that women are inundated with the idea that sex should be special all the time. Well, it’s great when it is, but women can also be sexual and have strong sexual feelings without being “in luv”. It’s okay to be that way. I know the whole “sex and the city” and our sex oriented culture appears to encourage women to embrace their sexuality, but it’s not very “sex-positive”, because you still have to be thin, gorgeous, blah blah blah for anyone to want to be sexual with you.

    Bless you for talking about this.

  13. Chloe responded on 17 Mar 2011 at 3:17 pm #

    Great post. I lost my virginity at 28. I’m now 30 and have slept with exactly two guys. I’m reasonably attractive, in good shape, etc. I’ve always been fine with it, and couldn’t understand why some of my friends thought it was a big deal that I hadn’t done it yet. I would do it when I wanted to do it and didn’t feel the need to do it any sooner than that. And that’s what happened.

    Our culture is such a mess.

  14. Mary responded on 17 Mar 2011 at 3:59 pm #

    I lost it when I was 21. I didn’t want to. I did the stupid thing I swore I’d never do and trusted some guy who made promises. It hurt like a bitch. I still did it with him twice more because I thought it was nice that someone cared about me. He didn’t care. It was really unpleasant. I don’t know why I couldn’t say no, I guess because I’d never had the offer before. I was desperately lonely.

    I still feel disgusted with myself about it, even now that I’m in a stable relationship and happy. Because of medical reasons I can’t have sex very often anymore. My sex drive is completely gone and it’s super painful, almost as painful as that first time was. And yet, the man I love has a very strong sex drive and I always feel guilty for denying him, but I hate the pain.

    I don’t know why I’m venting here…just wanted to get it off my chest, I guess. I don’t really think about that night much anymore, but once in a while it comes up in my memory and I still wonder why? Why did I do that? Why could I just realize that I wouldn’t always be that lonely? I suppose it was a self confidence issue more than anything else…why did I have to feel so ugly and unwanted?

    I agree that virginity should stop being a “thing.” Who cares, really? Why does that make it anymore exciting, or off-putting, or embarrassing? I don’t get it. Because of what happened to me, the silly mistake I made, I hate sex. It’s really unfortunate.

  15. Jess responded on 17 Mar 2011 at 4:11 pm #

    I’m a long-time lurker, and I wanted to pipe up here to say: I love learning, and things that make me think (psych student!), and your writing always fulfills both criteria for me, so thank you.
    I was on the opposite end of the spectrum – lost it early and ill-advisedly, but I’m okay with it – and while sexuality is something I’m interested in and read a lot about, I had never thought about it from this perspective.
    Also, I love your haircut.

  16. An Over 20 Virgin responded on 17 Mar 2011 at 4:32 pm #

    Thank you! Just thank you :)

  17. Roselie responded on 17 Mar 2011 at 4:45 pm #

    Love this! Spot on in everything you said!

  18. Kristen responded on 17 Mar 2011 at 4:51 pm #

    Thank you so much for posting this!

    As an undergrad in college, I feel like sex is all that guys expect of me….I feel like a lot of guys just look at me and only think of me as ‘a piece of ass’ and don’t even consider the fact that I am also a person with my own thoughts, feelings, and opinions. I am often made fun of by people in my dorm building for always being a ‘tomboy’ and in running clothes (I’m training for a half-marathon, so when I’m not running or studying I’m too tired to care about being in workout clothes). That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy dressing up and looking pretty sometimes – I just don’t do it that often.

    I had sex for the first time when I was 19 – and even THAT was considered “really late.” But I don’t ever regret it, and looking back I’m glad I had sex a little later than most people. I’m now casually seeing a guy who is just amazing – we both like each other very much, and we have a great time together. We both agreed to not enter into a serious relationship because he lives very far away, and he will be going to Scotland all of next year, and then he will be off to grad school. My friends have constantly been on my back, asking me if I’ll ever make it “official,” and that I shouldn’t have a relationship that’s “casual” if we’re sleeping together. I don’t understand why they’re giving me such a hard time when we both are on the same page and agreed not to enter into a “serious” relationship.

    I just wish our society would stop labeling everybody and their relationships, and then proceeding to judge them on those labels.

  19. Mandy responded on 17 Mar 2011 at 5:07 pm #

    “Virginity police?!!!” LOL!

  20. Kate responded on 17 Mar 2011 at 5:44 pm #

    It’s kind of amazing to think about you reading this in a tiny cafe in London. I like how we’re randomly connected. I’m touched that you were touched.

  21. Kate responded on 17 Mar 2011 at 5:49 pm #

    Thanks for the comment. I think it’s important to note that just because you lose your virginity early and ill-advisedly, like you mentioned, that doesn’t mean it has to be this big, terrible thing. It might just, well, be.

    And @Mary, sometimes it is a big, terrible thing. And I wish it wasn’t. I’m sorry you had to go through that and I hope that you’ll find your way to sex that feels good physically and psychologically!

    No one should be able to tell the world what sex “should” be. It’s individual and contextual. There’s no right way to do it. It’s awesome when it doesn’t end up being a huge deal, even when it’s bad, but it’s so easy for it to be a huge deal, because that’s what we’re told it is, over and over and over, even as we’re told we should be totally comfortable with it.

    Ack! Mixed messages! It hurts my brain.

  22. Jak responded on 17 Mar 2011 at 5:56 pm #

    I’ve always hated the term “lost my virginity”. It’s a very passive phrase, along with the implication that I’m not sure what I did with it. I won’t be losing it and I won’t be giving it away, either. I make it a habit to never give parts of myself to other people.

    I find it interesting that there’s also no word for someone after they’ve “lost” their virginity. We have the term “virgin” but what about those who aren’t? Does this imply that you are nothing once it’s gone?

  23. Kate responded on 17 Mar 2011 at 5:58 pm #

    (stands up and applauds)

  24. Rachel @ Musings of an Inappropriate Woman responded on 17 Mar 2011 at 6:26 pm #

    Loved this post. I’m doing my PhD (and writing a book!) on sex, and my thesis is pretty close to what you’re talking about here: why, culturally and philosophically, sex is considered such “a big deal” in our society, and how that impacts people’s sense of self (in particular people who feel like sexual misfits, which of course many virgins do).

    For the record, I ‘lost’ my virginity pretty much the same way you did: very deliberately, with the person I wanted to, and at the point where sex didn’t seem scary, exotic or grown up. Afterwards, some of my (non-virgin) friends told me that sex would “change everything”, but I maintain to this day that it didn’t.

  25. Jess responded on 17 Mar 2011 at 6:31 pm #

    I love this, thank you. Have you ever read “the Virginity Myth” by Jessica Valenti? It touches on a lot of the points you made. Sexuality never seemed so important to me — and was home schooled, too! I never felt the pressure of losing my virginity, in fact I was the one who initiated sex for the first time with my boyfriend when I was 16. It just seemed like something that came naturally with feeling close to someone in a romantic way.

  26. Valerie @ Life 4 me by me responded on 17 Mar 2011 at 6:48 pm #

    Sexuality was not that big a deal to me. I did it when I felt I was ready and never understood all the desperation to hold on to it. It seems unhealthy.

  27. Ali responded on 17 Mar 2011 at 7:15 pm #

    I, too, did not misplace my virginity; I gave it very purposefully. He was my college sweetheart and we were very much in love. I remember the only “big deal” being that he was not a virgin (he had at least 2 previous partners) and because I was, he was ridiculously hesitant about doing the deed. Back then it was frustrating and ego-crushing; I kept wondering what was wrong with me that he wanted to have sex with these two exes but would NOT entertain the notion of intercourse with me. As I got older, I realized that he abstained like that because he really loved me. He wanted to be sure that we would last before taking that step. And we did for quite a while.

    We consumated our love about 6 months into our 2 and a half year relationship. I have never regretted it for even a moment. It was New Year’s Eve and we had champagne from light up Lord Of The Rings goblets that night. It was magical…

    But the point here is this: incredibly, and against all odds, there are still guys out there who aren’t solely interested in disrobing and conquering. They care, they want to wait to be sure, and it’s refreshing.

    And, all told, it really wasn’t that big of a deal after all…

  28. Relatable Style responded on 17 Mar 2011 at 7:37 pm #

    “So it feels weird to even say “lost” when I talk about my virginity. I knew exactly where I was putting it.”
    Haha! I love that!

    But you know, I think men are even more judged when they didn’t have sex when they are actually far into adulthood. So I think being judged upon the amount of contact one had with another person’s genitalia is not chauvinist or misogynist, it’s human. Because that someone lacks experience in an area that is such an important and powerful force and motivation in humans: SEX.
    I’m not saying that’s alright – I’m just saying it is what it is :-) (And some things would certainly be easier if it wasn’t – but then the human race would be dead by now ^^)

    Relatable Style

  29. Kate responded on 17 Mar 2011 at 8:52 pm #

    NO WAY. I want to read your book.

    and speaking of books, @Jess, thanks! I should check that out! People keep mentioning her to me.

  30. Claire Allison responded on 18 Mar 2011 at 3:54 am #

    I think the one thing I like the most about the whole experience is the anticipation. Because even when it happens with the wrong person in the wrong place, you spend a portion of your time anticipating what it could be like. So me? I like the build-up. I like to find that build up after every relationship and recreate the sense, with a new partner, that there is something to anticipate that will make us feel good about the way we feel about each other. Cause that’s the real value of it when it’s in a relationship; if it’s right and the person is right then it helps you to feel good about feeling something for someone. And yeah, if you’re into making it count, it’s awkward as a duck in a raincoat with a new person, but if you can get to a place where that vulnerability is acceptable, funny, enjoyable and lovable, then that makes it all worthwhile. And if you’re in that place then age doesn’t mean a thing.

  31. Ivy responded on 18 Mar 2011 at 10:52 am #

    I feel weird even admitting this online, but this touched on a lot for me. I’m 28 and still a virgin.

    I feel torn on this — on the one hand, there are many other things in life that define me. My life isn’t lacking in any significant way because I haven’t had sex!

    On the other hand, I feel the older it gets the more difficult it might be to find a partner who doesn’t freak out; I’m not looking for a random encounter, I’m looking for someone I care about and trust. I’ve had friends offer, and who knows, if I get older I may take some one of them up on it someday, but that’s not what I really want.

    What really gets me is the idea that virginity = not in touch with one’s sexuality. I’d say that’s actually pretty no true of me; one can be a sexual person without having done anything with another individual. Yet we place so much emphasis on that one thing, and not on any sort of healthy awareness of one’s own body, desires, etc.

  32. sadiemichelle responded on 18 Mar 2011 at 11:06 am #

    Kate, Thank you so much for writing about this.
    This very topic has been on my mind for the past week or so. Ever since the ‘Sex Ed’ episode of Glee of all things! It got me thinking about it all over again (I’m twenty six and it had stopped being an issue when I left college), and I began to question my decisions all over again.

    Like you I had no interest in sex when I was a teenager, I just wanted to get to university when I was in school, and I was called a prude many, many times. And I honestly didn’t care. Until I got to college, and then apparently I was supposed to care. But as far as I was concerned while I wasn’t in a serious relationship, where if (and I know this is a serious taboo subject that I can’t even bring up with my own girlfriends) I get pregnant, I trust the guy enough not to leave me standing with a decision to make that frankly I don’t want to have to make. So I decided not to have sex.

    I have been called naive, and asked whats wrong me for making this decision. I am not ashamed of it so never felt the need to lie about it, and also have to wonder why it comes up so often in conversations and you get asked directly the most intimate questions that should be no one’s business but your own.

    I have a masters in Equality Studies, and took gender and feminism classes, and was made to feel that I was going against the women’s liberation movement, because I have made the decision not to have sex before marriage. I have been patronized and got more ‘sympathetic’ nods than I care to count, but what I want to know is sexual liberation not just about the invention of contraception, but also about how you decide you don’t want to get pregnant? Is it not about taking control of your body, and making the decisions about what happens to it? Because until approximately forty years ago we had very few options when it came to our futures and our bodies. And unfortunately violence against women still happens all too often.

    Having grown up in Ireland, where women were hidden in convents and laundries for the decisions they made until very, very recent history I am grateful we live in a time where women can make the choices they make, and feel good about them. More often than not, I am forced to asked myself ‘am I crazy?’ But the answer that comes back is ‘no’. So thank you for again for writing this, and for the opportunity to read other girls comments, which is awesome.

    I agree with Erin, it has nothing to do with virtue or feeling better than anyone else.

    I’m sorry for off loading here, but I really needed to get that off my chest!

    Absolutely love your blog btw, have also been following it for a while, but this is my first time to comment :)

  33. Tyler responded on 18 Mar 2011 at 12:16 pm #

    This post was like a hug. Thank you so much.

  34. Anonymous responded on 18 Mar 2011 at 3:42 pm #

    Hi, sorry to be anonymous, but I think you’ll understand.

    I lost my virginity at age 16, and I still don’t feel like it was a big deal. I did it without pressure, with protection, with someone I loved and still love – I’ve only ever had one boyfriend, this same guy, and we’ve been together for more than a year now.

    I thought I would feel “different” or “wrong” – but I didn’t. I just thought… “that’s it?” It wasn’t awkward, it wasn’t painful. It wasn’t life-changing. It didn’t hugely change our feelings towards each other… it’s just another way of expressing love.

    I did it without guilt, and I continue to do it safely. I just wish I would feel less self-conscious about the technical age at which I made this choice.

    I am sure that there are adults out there who have lost their virginity with less thought or precaution.

  35. jan responded on 19 Mar 2011 at 10:38 am #

    In college, back when dinosaurs roamed, we all made a friend promise to tell us details about her experience when she married while still a student. So we pressed and pressed heer to tell all when she returned to school. Finally she said something like this, “I hate him and I will divorce him as soon as I can. He raped me over and over and over on our wedding night.” End of subject. We were too stunned to say a word.

    I was 32 when I married and stilll a virgin. My husband had been married before so he was content to wait until I was ready. So, I lost my virginity on my honeymoon. It was painful (very) but I wanted to please him. Wouldn’t you know? I got pregnant. Yes, we used precaution. So the pain never left. When I had my first gyn exam, the doc couldn’t understand why I was so small. The pain about took me off the table.

    My husband was experienced but ignorant. He had no idea about how to get me warmed up. The pain continued. After birth, it didn’t hurt so much but I still had never had an orgasm. I would feel a little tingle and think that was it, so he would finish and I thought I had done my job, which was, of course, to please him. On our 25th wedding anniversary, we were having oral sex and I thought, “I wonder what would happen if I just didn’t stop the tingle?” Ladies, that was my first orgasm. I was 57. We are now approaching our 50th wedding anniversary, and I’m approaching 80, and we still have satisfying sex often.

    This is a weird tale but a true one. I have never told it to a soul. Please forgive my geriatric rambling. God Bless all you young ones.
    You, deserve all happiness and all pleasure that is right for YOU.

  36. Stephanie responded on 20 Mar 2011 at 10:17 am #

    I’m new to your blog. This is the first post I’ve read…and now I’ll be a permanent reader. I was hanging off of every word. Both funny and thought-provoking!

  37. shevrae responded on 20 Mar 2011 at 10:52 pm #

    My husband and I lost our virginity at the same time – on our wedding night. It was really important to both of us to wait until we were married, and I’ve never regretted that I didn’t get a chance to be with anyone else.

    Now in my mid-30′s, I have some friends who are still virgins. I think they are more worried about not having kids than they are about not having sex.

  38. Kate responded on 20 Mar 2011 at 10:55 pm #

    Wow! I have to admit– that’s the first time I’ve heard that from someone (I mean, not that I’m going around asking everyone I meet about their sex lives). Way to do what was right for you!

    And kids are a much bigger deal than sex. By a lot. So I understand that.

  39. alex responded on 21 Mar 2011 at 9:44 am #

    I don’t worry about sex. I’ll be fine if I lose my virginity at 21. That’s not old at all! I dont know why people make it so much bigger then it actually needs to be. sex is something that is very personal and should be done when your ready. I will not do it until I am ready. I’m still in high school. all of the girls in my classes who have already had sex and have been having sex for a while, must be freaking out. how can they not be freaking out. I only have enough time in my life for me, I don’t need a guy or sex to get in the middle of it. people need to just let each other be. there are more important things in life.

  40. Sara responded on 21 Mar 2011 at 3:27 pm #

    So that Shevrae doesn’t feel weird, I’ll be the second person to say that my husband and I were both virgins until our wedding night, and we were 23 & 25 at the time. We were both nerdy/shy teens who never really had the opportunity and, yes, had a Christian religious background (him more than me). I think that context protected us from the “still a virgin” shaming in college, since all our friends had made the same choice to wait (or also lacked opportunity).

    I too loved Kate’s phrase: “So it feels weird to even say “lost” when I talk about my virginity. I knew exactly where I was putting it.”

    I hope that now, half a century after the sexual revolution, women can finally start making real choices about the when, who, how, and why of their first sexual encounters.

    And, as commenter Jan reminds us, the ending of virginity is really the least important part of a lifetime of sexual relationship(s) that can grow and mature along with the participants!

  41. Therese Shechter responded on 21 Mar 2011 at 5:47 pm #

    I’m working on a documentary about virginity, “How to Lose Your Virginity,” and I also blog on it. I think you can click on the link in my name to connect to it.

    I’m always fascinated by people’s experiences when they start their sexual lives. They’re so varied, and yet I think we all share a strong emotional connection it. Whether the actual things we did were meaningful or not, how we process them always is.

    I waited until I was 23 to have sex, because of various nerd/shyness/waiting-for-right-guy issues. For the film, I set out to see how different women view virginity and grapple with the choices they have regarding their sexuality. I’m also really interested in the meaning we give our sexuality versus what religion, history and society tells us it means.

    It’s about knowledge of and power over our own bodies, but at 23 all I was thinking of was that I was the last virgin on earth and needed to change that as soon as I could.

  42. Marcheline responded on 22 Mar 2011 at 9:17 am #

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I think “deciding” to lose your virginity sounds clinical and boring. I had sex for the first time when I was ready, when I was in love, and when things were wild and passionate. I didn’t sit around with a pencil behind my ear, drinking a cup of oolong and say, “Yes, I’ve decided. Today I’m having sex.” I loved it the first time, and I’m still loving it today.

    I’m not sure why people feel so compelled to compare themselves with other people. Until you meet the right person and feel the right passion, what’s the point of having sex? It could be when you’re 18, when you’re 25, when you’re whatever age.

    What people don’t realize is that nobody else cares whether you are a virgin or a vegan or a collector of badger skulls. Really. They don’t. Everyone else is too busy thinking about their own lives to worry about whether you’ve slept with anyone or not.

  43. Kate responded on 22 Mar 2011 at 9:48 am #

    I wish that was the case– that no one cared about whether or not anyone else was a virgin or a vegan or whatever. But that doesn’t seem to be right. Definitely, SOME people don’t care, and that’s great, and I’m glad that you’ve been surrounded by those people.

    And I don’t really appreciate you criticizing the way I described my own experience. If you don’t want to compare yourself with other people, then why say that “deciding” sounds clinical? Sounds like you’ve decided there’s a right way and a wrong way, and your way was definitely right. I’m glad everything worked out for you, but no need to put me down.

  44. melle responded on 22 Mar 2011 at 12:53 pm #

    It’s probably also related to the whole “if you don’t want to have babies, you’re broken” idea.

    And the whole “A tiny fetus is way more important than the actual, living, breathing, walking person is” idea.

    combine those with the “if you haven’t had sex by the time you’re fertile there’s something wrong with you” idea, it really paints a picture that we’re all just walking baby farms.

  45. AB responded on 22 Mar 2011 at 1:55 pm #

    I really appreciated this. At 21 and still a virgin, even though I don’t really care to be one anymore, I’m getting kind of nervous. I’m graduating college this year and going off into the real world, and all I see on the internet and hear from friends is that guys are going to get freaked out by me still being a virgin.

    At this point, I have no real reason not to be having sex. I feel ready, I want to, the opportunity just hasn’t presented itself! I feel like in a lot of discussions about virginity, people think the only reason for someone to be an older virgin is that they’re either 1) super religious or 2) scared/a prude/think they’re unfuckable. There are a bunch of us in the middle!

    I think part of my problem is that people don’t really see me as a sexual person. Maybe it’s because I spent my first two years of college fighting an eating disorder and doing everything I could to stay away from relationship business (not going to parties, not going on dates etc.), maybe it’s because I’m fat, but it’s getting really annoying. I made an offhand comment about a high school boyfriend the other day, and one of my closest friends acted so. totally. shocked. that I had ever had a boyfriend. It’s like, yeah, fat people date too!

    Anyway sorry for ranting, it’s just good to get this out occasionally, but I no longer feel comfortable talking to friends about virginity because I’m the only one left. Once I get out of this tiny little liberal arts school where I know everyone I’m gonna do some online dating and have some sex!

  46. Natsu responded on 24 Mar 2011 at 1:16 pm #

    I’m glad I found another person who thinks this way about it. I am from another continent, I think (Spain).
    When I was young, I disliked the concept of virginity. Because I thought it was just wrong to describe a person’s innocence, or inner goodness, or honesty, through a membrane between her thighs. I mean, what was I, a tobacco package? I had read about women being killed or left alone because they had been raped… I remember it was reading some of the Spanish literature… In one of the plays, a girl is raped and she ends up in a nunnery. Life, sexuality, children, all that is no longer for her, because no one will have her. The girl was described throughout the play as beautiful, honest, warm and caring. But after being raped, she was worthless. I remember thinking “Wow. Thanks for having been born in this century, thank you feminists for breaking all this, thanks whoever financed the pill for making this obsolete”.

    But I ultimately refused the concept of virginity in a high school class. An experienced girl was teaching the others how to hand job a guy. The others were scandalized, thinking that a man’s penis was disgusting and that they’d rather have straight sex than do wanks or oral. The girl who was teaching said she wouldn’t have sex until marriage. I remember thinking “you’re having guys’ fingers in your body, you’re making them orgasms, and you try to save the precinct for marriage? You’re stupid. Virginity is stupid” I realized “It’s not only obsolete, it’s stupid. The precinct’s been mended since centuries ago… It says nothing, it measures nothing… It’s just stupid”.

    After that, a friend of mine was basically insulted by her gynecologist because she refused to admit she hadn’t had sex. She was a constant biker, took her bike daily, and either for that reason or another, she never had had a hymen. The gynecologist didn’t believe her. I remember thinking “If this had happened in her wedding night 50 years ago, she might as well have been killed for lack of precinct. A century ago, se surely would have been. Virginity is so stupid”.

    I don’t talk about virginity. I talk about “my first time”. The first time I chose to do it. I didn’t lose anything (in any case, fear of being hurt, but nothing else). I think it takes some thought for a woman to put herself in the arms of a man who is about twice as strong, and to let him do certain stuff with her body.

    I am of the ones who always felt comfortable saying no. If I don’t want to, I don’t want to. I’m the one who’s in danger of getting hurt, so no means no.

    Luckily, I’ve never seen the fact of virginity (the fact of not having experience) as something wrong. I mean, the concept is wrong, I always disliked it. But the fact of never having had sex… I never saw it as wrong. If you don’t want to, it’s stupid to do it because everybody does, or because of curiosity. Sex is fun, but it’s no game. It has consequences, and it makes a lot of sense to do it with someone you trust a lot, or with someone you desire so much that you can forget about trust for a bit. When I heard someone saying “at my age, I must have sex, I cannot die a virgin”, I thought “what’s wrong about dying without having sex? I don’t want to die without finishing all Asimov’s books or without watching certain movies or going to certain places. But, what’s the point of having unsatisfactory, compulsory sex”. Mind you, I love sex. I just think it’s not fun if you force yourself to have it just because it’s time.

    It’s time when you’re ready. I know of girls who were ready at 15, others at 13, and for me that’s too young. I wasn’t ready until I was 19, and for some that’s too old. But in fact is, our bodies and minds are ours and only we know when we’re ready.

    I didn’t lose my virginity. I had sex for the first time. And trust me, it wasn’t a loss, by no means.

    So, I’m very glad to read this :-) I agree with you in many points. Specially about friends, non-peer pressure and having lots more of stuff to do. Pleased to meet you.

  47. Kylie responded on 08 May 2011 at 4:05 am #

    this was excellent to read. I don’t mention it much, but I just turned 34, am still a virgin and have never been in a long term relationship. not because sex is big and scary, or because i’m a prude or religious, but i personally want to have it in the context of a relationship with someone i love and trust. and that just hasn;t happened. I’ve fooled around and even been to third base but i just haven’t made that leap.
    at one point around a decade ago, a friend made a point of needling me about my lack of experience and telling me i should get out and get it over with, but after getting angry and explaining how hurtful that was to her, it didn;t get brought up again.
    It can be very isolating, though, being a virgin at my age, especially when friends are in relationships, married and having kids, and I have decided that this is the year that I will become more active in looking for love and experiencing that connection with someone.